2018 Women's AFCON: Ghana beat South Africa in final trial match

Author: Rosalind K. Amoh
Black Queens wrap up their Women's AFCON preparations on a winning note
Black Queens wrap up their Women's AFCON preparations on a winning note

Ghana's Black Queens on Sunday beat South Africa's Bayana Bayana 1-0 in what was the two sides' final preparations towards the 2018 Total Women's Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) which kicks off in Ghana on November 17.

A 23rd minute header from experienced striker, Samira Suleman was what seperated the two sides as they sold out a very good game at the Accra Sports Stadium, which opened for the first time after almost six months of it being shut down for renovation works.

Queens' captain Elizabeth Addo and Linda Eshun join Samira Suleman to celebrate her goal

The match was also used as the dress-rehearsal for the 2018 AFCON which will be staged in Ghana from November 17 to December 1.

Suleman, lurking in the box powerfully headed home from a well-delivered cross from Elizabeth Addo from the flanks.

Using the match to test their readiness for the tournament, players of the two sides got off on a cautious note, but as the match progressed, it became more competitive, especially after the goal.

Elizabeth Addo goes ahead of her South African marker,  to set up the goal for Ghana

After warming themselves up into the game, the Queens became more aggressive and it was from one of such onslaughts that saw Addo sending a well-calculated cross into the box, Suleman was ready and headed the ball in past goalkeeper Kaylin Swart in posts for the South Africans.

Bayana pushed for an equaliser but that eluded them as the Queens managed to thwart all their efforts with some gusty midfield display from Grace Asantewaa.

The coaches of the two sides, Bashir Hayford for Ghana and Desire Ellis, both admitted that the match was a very important exercise and they were not so bothered by the outcome of the game.

South Africa's Bambanan Mbane keeps her focus on the ball as she is marked by Sherifatu Sumaila. Pictures: Samuel Tei Adano

"The match was not to have the edge over the other. It was simply to help better assess the strength and weakness of out team and I think we had that. We conceded a sloppy goal and afterwards had a couple of decent chances to equalise, but we did not make good use of it. Nonetheless, it was an exercise worth the while," Coach Ellis told the Graphic Sports.

For Coach Hayford, the match was an opportunity for Ghanaians to see at first hand, what the team looked like and was happy that they gave good account of themselves.

"The results from the friendlies against Zambia and Kenya had raised some doubts about the team, but I think gradually, the cohesion in the team is getting better and Ghanaians were provided with the opportunity to see the team.

"The technical team is happy with the output and of course, will work on the weakness," Coach Hayford explained.

Having identified their weaknesses and strengths in this final trial game, the coaches of the two sides will return to the drawing board to map out their strategy for their respective opening games.

Ghana in Group A, will play Algeria at the Accra Stadium on Saturday, while South Africa take on Nigeria in their Group B opening game at the Cape Coast Stadium on Sunday.